Originally published: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000
Includes bibliographical references (pages 331-344) and index
Daughter of Maria Theresa -- Great expectations -- A royal marriage -- The Versailles court -- Madame la Dauphine -- End of a reign, end of an era -- A happy accession -- "Little twenty-year-old queen" -- The coronation -- The queen's circle -- Venus and Vulcan -- The queen's intrigues -- The brother's visit -- Motherhood -- Fersen -- Queen of Trianon -- Birth of a Dauphin -- Fersen's return -- Last illusions -- Scandal in the air -- The diamond necklace affair -- "Madame deficit" -- "My fate is to bring bad luck" -- "Do you know a woman more to be pitied than me?" -- The fall of the Bastille -- The last summer at Versailles -- The tragedy of October 1789 -- The Tuileries -- Escape plans -- The Varennes drama -- The impasse -- The last show of strength -- The fall of the monarchy -- The death of the king -- The conciergerie -- Trial and death of the queen -- Epilogue: what became of them?
This volume is a biography of the Archduchess of Austria and the Queen of France Marie Antoinette (1755-1793). The author captures all the drama and pathos of Marie Antoinette's short life. Born in 1755, this carefree, fun-loving daughter of Austrian empress Maria Theresa inherited neither her mother's political shrewdness nor her sense of duty. She was married off at 14 to the stolid, clumsy French Dauphin, who would not fully consummate their marriage for another seven years, at which point he was King Louis XVI and their marital difficulties were the subject of public ridicule. She consoled herself by retreating to the artificial village she constructed at Trianon, where she could be free of the court etiquette she hated and indulge in expensive amusements that only increased her unpopularity. Her rare incursions into politics were just as ill judged; she alienated the French nobility with attempts to further Austria's diplomatic goals, and from the first rumblings of revolution in 1788, she influenced Louis to take a hard line on royal power when compromise might have saved the monarchy and prevented their executions in 1793